When booking a cruise, what is your payment plan?

I have been reading many posts lately about people that have saved 5 years or more to afford a cruise. It seems that most people aren't aware that with the right agent, you can book a cruise in some cases with no money down or a small deposit to hold your cabin. You can pay a little every month towards the cruise leading up to 70 or 90 day's from the sail date (depends on the cruise line) so you won't have to pay out a couple thousand up front. Take this scenario for example, If you book a cruise 18 months away, and the total cost is $2000, over the months leading up to the final payment date, you pay about $133 a month. In most cases that is less than a car payment. And of course you are NOT locked into any given amount. You pay as little or more as your budget allows as long as it it is paid in full at the deadline date. Now granted, for some, $133 a month is a good sum that can cut into your budget but I am using a scenario where your cabin is a balcony and it is a 7 day cruise so if you book an inside, your payment will be less. The math has to be adjusted to the ship, time of year, accommodations and number of days but I think you see where I'm going here! I have actually used this system a few times and it worked out well.  So how do you usually pay for your cruise? All upfront or over time? Bon Voyage......

Tags: booking cruise payment

13 Answers

Since we retired, we usually book our cruises two to four weeks from sailing date. We watch for the drop in price. So we have to pay in full. When we did book out we placed our deposit and payed when the final payment was due.

For our current cruise in 2 weeks and our next one in 15 months we use cruise certificates bought on the previous cruise for deposit. So rather than having to pay the full deposit amount we can use a 250 cruise certificate that earns a 100 credit on the cruise when you purchase it. We will book it a year out which usually gives the best price point and you can wait for some nice promotion. Over the next 9 months we put aside money here and there to have it paid off by the 70 day final payment deadline and we also book and pay for any transportation and before or after hotel stays and then start to focus on prepaying the gratuities and also booking and paying for any excursions. By the time we are ready to cruise all is paid for and we can sit back and enjoy without having to worry and count the nickels. This may not be what everyone should do but this works well for us.


Always book at least 12 months in advance and pay the deposit which is non-refundable if we choose to cancel for any reason. Deposit paid this year was £230 and full payment due in 8 months time, which hopefully will be plenty of time to put away part of the monthly state pension. Certainly do not bother looking at any price changes, up or down as we would certainly not be prepared to cancel and lose our deposit if indeed the price significantly reduced. Spend the remaining time looking up details about the Norwegian Epic and looking up to see if we could afford shore excursions bearing in mind that the prices charged by the cruise companies do not get any cheaper. Search the good old internet and cruise forums like this one (In fact only this one) to pick up tips on the ports we would visit and any interesting tips regarding the ship. (Not been on the Epic before). Pay the service charges and the cruise port transfers, book and pay for the flights and hope that the weather will be good.

On our last cruise On the Caribbean Princess, we had booked an obstructed oceanview. About 2 months prior to the cruise the price dropped dramatically to the point a Balcony was less than what we paid for the obstructed oceanview. We called our agent who in turn called Princess and they upgraded us to a balcony at no charge. No cancelling. And we still saved $25pp with the upgrade to the balcony.

We started to cruise in 2011 and have always paid up front but we are retired and have the wherewithal to do so and all have been booked within 3 months of the sail date. Things are a bit different for our cruise next April in that we booked it directly with Holland America and found out this particular voyage included their Explore 4 promotion. This bonus reduces the deposit by 50% so only 25% of the price was required at booking with the balance due in February.

Being retired I book most cruises in a few weeks to months. I pay 100% at time of booking.

We usually book about a year or more out and make monthly payments.

Most of the cruises we have booked in the last decade or so were booked at least 8 months or more in advance. We pay the minimum initially required in order to get a cabin and the cruise nailed down. Then we arrange for the insurance and only pay the premium on the amount we initially paid the cruise line. That allows us to get the most reasonable deal on insurance (existing conditions waived); when we make the final payment the insurance is adjusted and then we pay the additional premium. That way we are out only the first insurance payment if we cancel and happen to lose something to the cruise line for a too late cancellation.

We never make the entire cruise payment until a day or so before the dead line. That way we earn interest on our money, not the cruise line. Hate it when lines like Regent want the final payment months in advance. Too many horror stories we are aware of where the line went under and it was almost impossible to get money back for cruises that had been paid in full.

We put down the required deposit and then pay in full by credit card when the final payment is due for most cruises. For long cruises, we may pay in installments since my credit card has credit limits.

We pay deposits and then payments. And then look for the cruises to go on sale to have on board credits issued for any difference in rates.


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